"After years of continuous growth, membership in the Roman Catholic Church dropped by 0.59 percent and the Southern Baptist Convention decreased by 0.24 percent, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, published this week. Although the percentage losses are small compared to the total membership of the churches, the yearbook pointed out that the two communions had "grown dependably" over the years and "now they join virtually every mainline church in reporting a membership decline." Other denominations that reported membership losses include ...the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (down 1.44 percent)..."The editor of the Yearbook says: "There are no clear-cut theological or sociological reasons for church growth or decline."
Oh, really? I guess the effect of family planning (shown here) just kind of slips under the radar screen of most people's thinking. In 1961 LCMS members were reproducing at above the replacement fertility rate: we had 82,248 infant baptisms that year. In 2004, with the same number of overall membership reproduction had declined 60%, reflected by just 32,851 infant baptisms that year. Rev. Terry K. Dittmer, LCMS Director of Youth Ministry, pointed out: "At this time, the average age of an LCMS member is 62. We’re not having children. In that time, our youth population has shifted from 198,000 in 1980 to 102,000 in 2007 based on confirmation statistics."
No clear-cut theological or sociological reasons for the reported decline in membership?
I beg to differ.